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Running Away from Home and Marking Territory in Dogs



If a medical problem is found that is causing your dog to mark territory excessively, or roam away from home, this problem will be treated first. This alone may help decrease some of the behavior. If your dog is not spayed or neutered, your veterinarian will recommend spaying or neutering unless you have plans to breed your dog. This often helps to decrease roaming and marking behavior. If your dog has been diagnosed with a behavioral problem, your veterinarian will help to guide you through a plan to change that behavior (behavioral modification therapy). This plan will typically involve changes to your daily routine with your dog.


If you are having a problem with your dog roaming, it may help to increase the amount of exercise that your dog gets every day. Playing with your dog several times a day and walk your dog every day on a leash can spend a lot of energy and prevent your dog from becoming physically frustrated. Ideally, a securely fenced back yard where your dog can play is best, but if you cannot provide that, and you have concluded that your dog is not doing well inside the house for long periods of the day, you may choose to place your dog in a “doggie day care,” at least on occasion, so that your dog is getting a break from the daily wait for your return home. Dog day care centers often have large spaces in which dogs can play, and this may help increase your dog's activity level and give it in outlet to expend its energy. If your pet roams because of separation anxiety or fear, your veterinarian will help you to come up with a program of behavior training to help your dog deal with its anxiety. In some cases, medication may be necessary to help your dog to calm down and get over this problem.


If your dog has a problem with marking, it may help to keep other animals away from your house and yard. If your pet dog has been urinating or defecating in your home, it is important to thoroughly clean those areas with a special cleaner that will remove the odor thoroughly. After cleaning, you should not allow your dog into these areas again until the behavioral training has firmly set in. One other option is to use synthetic animal pheromones in the home to dissuade your dog from marking. These man-made versions of natural dog smells will cause your dog to think that the territory has already been marked and will not mark them again with urine. You veterinarian can tell you more about this and other options that will stop your dog's marking behavior.


Living and Management


When you first begin behavioral modification therapy, your veterinarian will want to check your progress regularly. This is to address any issues that might have come up and to make sure that you and your dog are doing well with the planned therapy. If your dog is on medication for anxiety, you will need to return to the veterinarian’s office for follow-up complete blood counts and biochemistry levels to make sure the medication is not damaging any of your dog’s internal organs.


Because marking and roaming are normal dog behaviors, they may take some time to change and to stop entirely. Your dedication to the behavioral training will be the crucial determinant for a successful outcome. Keep in mind the importance of training your dog not to follow this instinctive urge: when roaming, your dog could be in a dog fight or could be hit by a car, or it could be harmed or stolen by people who chance upon it.


Of the most common reasons people give their dogs up to animal shelters, urinating or defecating in the home and frequently running off are two that are highly concerning. The stress that these behaviors bring into the home make behavioral training to eliminate them highly important. Be patient with your dog and use a lot of positive reinforcement as it learns to behave better for you.


Whatever treatment plan you and your veterinarian come up with, this is the plan that will need to be followed consistently for the rest of your dog’s life. This will keep your dog from returning to the inappropriate behavior. If your dog is being treated for anxiety, it may need to be on medication for a long time. Some dogs can eventually be weaned off medication, while others may not be resolved as easily.




Spaying female dogs before their first heat cycle, and neutering male dogs before they reach puberty can prevent a lot of questionable behaviors. Making sure that your dog gets plenty of daily activity is essential for it's physical and mental health.



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